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David Joseph
The Old Men Who Row Boats and Other Stories
David Joseph, author
A collection of touching stories of extraordinary moments within the confines of ordinary lives. In this collection on love and loss, hopes and dreams, and memory and regret, The Old Men Who Row Boats and Other Stories takes the reader on an insightful journey through Spain and Portugal. These fourteen stories convey real emotion through compelling, simple language and human interaction that resonates in the authentic beauty of small moments.
Readers' Favorite

In this collection of short stories, prepare to be immersed in the day-to-day activities of some charming characters from different walks of life. David Joseph combines several romantic and dreamy themes in The Old Men Who Row Boats and Other Stories: boat rides, art galleries, restaurants, taxi rides, bullfighting, bartending, and more. A Good Listener portrays a bartender who listens to a disheartening confession by one of his customers. The Girl At The Chocolate Shop shows how a girl's smile disappears when she's faced with a life-changing situation, which she hides from the world. The Jeweler's Hand depicts a young character's fascination with jewelers. The fourteen short stories, which are mostly set in Spain, depict the pain, love, joy, fear, and hope felt by the realistic characters.

The Old Men Who Row Boats and Other Stories took my breath away and seemed to slow time and my heartbeat in a pleasing, soothing manner. If you love stories that make you feel present in them, you would love this remarkable collection of short stories by David Joseph. I had to bookmark several lines I found dazzling and poetic sentences: "I was happy to feel hopeless, to feel my heart inside my chest, to feel the blood cut off from my brain in such a primal way." The characters are quite perceptive and have some unique personalities that leave a strong impression and may either remind you of yourself or someone you know. An example is how a character prefers good lighting to space in his apartment. All in all, I enjoyed every page and would be thrilled to give it another read.


I think that there is an art to writing a good short story as a writer attempts to encapsulate a moment, a situation, a memory, an event and it is essential, in order for the story to be successful, that this is done in a way that is succinct but it cannot shirk on detail. In that, I mean that the description and the emotion and the character must almost be condensed in order for the experience of reading that story to be fulfilling; otherwise, it will fall flat. It does not allow for an author’s meandering nor a sparseness of writing. It is a tight form.

With that explanation in mind, there is no doubt in this reader's mind about how good this collection of stories is.

David Joseph is a commensurate writer of short stories. In this collection, you have a variety of different people in different situations experiencing the many emotions associated with the human condition: a few examples are characters who have finally found love and those still searching out those who they previously loved; people mourning the death of a loved one and people living with the absence of someone still living; men hoping for love and family members sacrificing a bit of themselves to protect their loved ones.

Joseph has a very precise style of writing and he is able in his selection of choice words to pinpoint the essence of his characters, allowing the exploration of their thoughts and musings to provide you with a clear picture of each individual, drawing on their memories to give an insight into their personality, a window on their life. However, he has a particular way of formatting his sentences, that permeates his work, repeating a phrase from the previous sentence, possibly for emphasis, possibly to provide an expansion on that idea, that I sometimes found it difficult to escape his authorial voice.

However, this took nothing away from his storytelling ability, which is strong and adept.

In this book, you get a real sense of the hot days, the history, the culture and the atmosphere of place and in this, Joseph’s writing allows you to immerse yourself in the little worlds that he has carefully created in each story, all of them distinct, all of them a voyeuristic view of a snippet of someone’s existence.

David Joseph’s tales from the Iberian peninsula are a delight.